Looking for a two night backpacking trip near Santa Cruz that features giant redwood groves, gorgeous vistas, and epic waterfalls?
Big Basin Redwoods State Park has got you covered.
Note: This adventure was originally written for The Outbound Collective. I’ve since added some details on type 1 diabetes for the purpose of this blog. Check out The Outbound Collective for different outdoor adventures around the world.
Note: the backcountry campsites in the Santa Cruz mountains require reservations. Further information on the trails and reserving a campsite can be found at https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages…
Day 1: Big Basin Headquarters to Lane Trail Camp
Via Skyline to Sea Trail and Hollow Tree Trail (Approximately 7 miles)
Park in the long term parking lot located at Jay camp (approximately 1/4 mile from park headquarters). You can then hike from your car to Park headquarters either on the trail from Jay camp or on the road. The trail starts at park headquarters, and winds slowly through the shade of the redwoods at a pretty easy grade for the first few miles. You eventually wind around the center of the park and begin to gain some elevation alongside a creek (remember to filter/fill up your water early, because the creek dries up about 2 miles from Lane Camp and there is no water available at the camp). As you turn onto the Hollow Tree Trail, the trail becomes steeper and the terrain slightly more challenging. The last 3 miles are almost entirely uphill, but you’ll pass an old mine (and a bench), which makes a good break spot. As you keep climbing, get a few glimpses of great views through breaks in the trees.
Note: you can also take Skyline to Sea to the Basin Trail and up to Lane Camp as well, but there’s no place to filter water, so remember to filter water prior to the Hollow Tree fork.
Day 2: Lane Camp to Sunset
Via Middle Ridge Fire road, Meteor Trail and sunset trail (approximately 11 miles)
As Day 1 is mostly uphill, it makes sense that day 2 involves a lot of downhill. Although you can get to Sunset camp directly on the fire road (approximately 6 miles), it’s advisable to cut back down towards headquarters before heading to sunset camp, as there is no access to water along the fire trail or at camp.
Start off on the Middle Ridge Fire road and wind your way down the fire road until you hit the meteor creek trail turn off on the left, which takes you through the redwoods back towards headquarters. Note: look out for banana slugs on this trail!
From the Meteor Creek trail hop onto the lower portion of Skyline to Sea and wind around headquarters until you pick up the Sunset trail (it’s helpful to carry a map). Take sunset for approximately 6 miles winding up and down through the redwoods to Sunset Trail Camp, and camp their for the night.
Day 3: Sunset Trail Camp to Jay Camp
Via Berry Creek Falls (approximately 6 miles)
Take the Berry Creek trail ( a continuation of the Sunset trail) back to park headquarters. Day 3 is definitely the most scenic. The first three miles will bring you past endless waterfalls and then wind you around magical redwood groves and across gurgling creeks, providing a gorgeous backdrop for your last day in the Santa Cruz mountains. Finally, finish the hike climbing up away from the waterfalls and enjoy the dappling light as it plays through the redwood groves. Filter water at Berry Creek falls if needed.
Note: Everyone’s insulin needs and regimens differ. Please adjust this list to your current physician prescribed regimen.